Deirdre Heenan: Beattie turns his back on extremists, but it may be too little too late for this election

Doug Beattie promised to recast the Ulster Unionist Party as progressive before joining hardline unionists in opposing the protocol; he has now distanced himself from them in what could be the start of a rebuilding process for the UUP and unionism itself

Doug Beattie: the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has taken the flak, but it will all be for nothing if he can’t challenge the self-appointed gatekeepers of unionism at the polls. Picture: Press Eye

When he became leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) almost a year ago, Doug Beattie immediately set out to reframe the party as liberal and progressive.

He acknowledged that it might have to “shrink to grow”, as its more conservative members might be uncomfortable with his more inclusive approach. But Beattie’s vision was to promote and develop a progressive, inclusive unionism through a party that was fit for the 21st century.

His focus was ...